By Samuel Kutty — MUSCAT: Feb 20 – As part of its initiative to increase aquaculture production, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries seeks investments under public private partnership (PPP) in the Sultanate. “To this purpose, exclusive zones and sites for conducting aquaculture have been identified and allocated. In addition to issuing aquaculture regulations, a committee comprising several government agencies as its members has been formed to work as a one-stop shop,” says a report. The ministry has drafted several strategic studies in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the foremost of which is the preparation of the strategic plan for the development of aquaculture in a sustainable manner.
Under the national food security programme, the country plans to double production from 200,000 tonnes in 2014 to 480,000 tonnes in 2020. “Companies for fish processing services and fish rearing management can conduct business in Oman under PPPs. The process of bidding for tenders is highly competitive in Oman, attracting large multinational companies who partner with local companies to bid,” says the report. Currently the Sultanate has a commercial farm breeding domestic shrimp stretched across an area of 80 hectares at Bantout in Wilayat of Mahout. This farm produced about 277 tonnes of shrimp in 2014, which was fully consumed in the local market.
“The ministry is exerting consistent efforts to develop aquaculture sector as one of the most promising sectors in the Sultanate and encourage private sector investments,” points out the study.
Given the global development of the aquaculture techniques and their contribution in bolstering food security of countries, the Sultanate has established an integrated centre to promote aquaculture in general.
The centre specialises in implementing research and scientific experiments in the field of aquaculture and has been reviewing both marine and land-based aquaculture such as freshwater fish breeding.
The centre also conducted specialised studies to examine abalone stocks and other private aquaculture fish varieties to reintroduce them in Mirbat Fish Farm in the Governorate of Dhofar.
The centre also examined and evaluated the survival rates and the possibility of reproduction of the reintroduced abalone fish.
The ministry has already signed three contracts on the right of benefit with three companies to carry out aquaculture in the Wilayat of Jaalan Bani Bu-Hassan.
The contract, which was signed in coordination with the Ministry of Housing, was intended to cultivate shrimps, and also abalone fish, spotted grouper fish in the Wilayat of Shalem, Al Halaniyat Islands and the Wilayat of Sohar.
These projects are expected to contribute 7,000 tonnes of various marine products.
These investment projects are expected to cost more than RO 110 million.There are efforts to establish an Omani company for the development of aquaculture and accordingly, the ministry has prepared a feasibility study.
In 2013, the ministry coordinated with the Oman Investment Fund to oversee the establishment and operation of the company.
It also signed a memorandum of understanding with the fund in 2014.